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Ah the burger!  A beauteous thing of summer!  And today was *almost* summer-like.  I mean, it got almost up to 20 degrees here today (centigrade, just to be clear).  It was sunny, blue skies, gorgeous.  The perfect day for a barbecue … of burgers of course.

We made two kinds of burgers.  Beef and lamb.  We were going to bust out the frozen Costco burgers (prime rib and lean buffalo) – but there weren’t enough people to justify it and, besides, we had fresh stuff.  But I should note here for anyone who has a hankerin’ and does not enjoy mixing meat by hand (which, let’s be honest people, is the only way to make a burger), or who just wants fast and easy – these are damn good burgers.  But we went with fresh tonight and we mixed in some good stuff.

Beef Burgers:

P made his special burgers.  It involves cooking mushrooms, garlic, and shallots (all minced very finely) with oregano and chili flakes, worcestershire sauce, teriyaki sauce, beer (in this case, Sea Dog Amber Ale from Vancouver Island Brewery here in Victoria).  Then mash it all into the meat with your hands.  Add an egg, s&p, and keep mashing until everything is blended.

Lamb Burgers:

We made these without any egg so Dea could partake.  Just locally (well Salt Spring Island local) raised lamb mixed with a wee bit of olive oil, basil, oregano, s&p & some beer (because, as we keep saying, everything’s better if you make it with booze).

Form the meat mixtures into balls, patting them firmly until they hold together well.  Squash the balls into patties using your palms and then grill on a hot barbecue until cooked through (remember folks, although a slightly rare burger tastes better, ground meat is also a ridiculously hospitable environment for bad things like e. coli and salmonella, so you should cook the s**t out of it just to be safe).  When just about finished, top with your selection of cheese (tonight we used asiago and pecorino) and serve on a nice bun with your favorite fixin’s.

Great burgers require great fixin's

We went simple on the fixin’s today.  A platter of veggies and dip, some tortilla chips and then condiments for the burgers, including sauerkraut, beer sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions, fresh heirloom tomatoes and greens from SunWing, pickles, bbq sauce, mustard, ketchup, relish, etc. etc. etc.

Prosciutto, Salt Spring Island Chevre with Basil and Olive Oil, and some tortilla chips to eat it all up with.

Well, not TOO simple!  We also had a side of GORGEOUS chevre with prosciutto.  And Asiago and pecorino which went on the burgers.  We sat on the porch and gobbled down our delicious creations while enjoying the fresh spring air and good companionship.  Finished it all off with a slab of apple pie baked by Dea.  A wonderful night indeed!

(P:  “I should have put a Sun Wing tomato on my lamb burger … that would have been perfect!”)

(Dea:  “I forgot to put relish on mine.”)

(B: “There’s always a next time.”)

(Collectively:  “*SIGH*”)

xoxo. B

Add prosciutto to make it perfect...

Delmonico's Restaurant Since 1837

Lobster Newburg is a dish full of history. The recipe was developed in the late 19th century at the one of the most famous eateries on the planet.  Delmonico’s opened its doors in the heart of the New York financial district in 1837.  The iconic establishment on Beaver Street, long known for its succulent steaks, is still a fashionable dining destination today.  But Delmonico’s is much more than an old-fashioned steak house.  It is also the home of several gastronomic firsts – it was the first formal dining restaurant in the United States, the first to serve hamburger, the creator of Baked Alaska, the creator of Eggs Benedict, and of course the creator of Lobster Newburg.

The dining room at Delmonico's

Lobster Newburg is itself a fantastic bit of culinary lore.  As the story goes, a wealthy sea captain and regular patron of Delmonico’s came in one night in 1876 announcing that he had discovered a new preparation for lobster. Ben Wenburg called for a chafing dish and demonstrated his new recipe on the spot.  Chef, Charles Ranhofer, and owner, Charles Delmonico, were suitably impressed with Wenburg’s creation.  Ranhofer tweaked the recipe and added “Lobster a la Wenerg” to the menu soon after that fabled night. The creamy lobster concoction was an instant hit with diners.  Then the story takes a dark turn. Delmonico barred Wenburg from the restaurant after the two quarreled. Over what, no one knows.  Wenburg was thus deemed persona non grata and the dish he helped create was renamed Newburg.  Despite its sordid past, it remains one of the most popular dishes on the Delmonico’s menu.

Now that we’re done with the history lesson, you may be asking what exactly is Lobster Newburg? Put simply, it is pure decadence.  It is lobster with a sherry and cognac infused, egg-thickened cream sauce.  Trust me, you don’t want to count the calories on this one.  Suffice it to say you’ll have a log a few hours on the treadmill to work off a Newburg.  That said, every day is a good day for lobster.

Not much to look at - Good thing they taste good.

I have to admit, I’ve never made Lobster Newburg before.  I haven’t even tried it in a restaurant, so the first thing I had to do was to go in search of a recipe.  I settled on the Lobster Newburg recipe from Epicurious.com.  I followed the recipe to the letter with the exception of adding a squeeze of lemon at the end and serving it over parpadelle instead of toast points.  I served my Newburg with a heaping helping of asparagus to help ease my unhealthy conscience.  Coincidently, asparagus also goes really well with a rich creamy sauce.

Sorry, is not my photo. We were so anxious to eat, I forgot to snap a photo. Mine looked the same but was served over parpadelle with asparagus.

And the verdict… I loved it!  The rich, luscious sauce paired with the sweet tender lobster was a brilliant combination.  That said, if I were to make it again, I’d serve it as an appetizer.  A little bit of rich is fantastic, too much is just too much.  The other thing I might do is to replace half of the cream with lobster stock to turn it into an almost-any-day pasta sauce.  It also occurred to me that crab, prawns and perhaps even scallops would pair nicely with the Newburg cream sauce.

So there you have it… 134 years after its first appearance Lobster Newburg is still winning fans.  You know, I’ve always wanted to go to Delmonico’s.  I think the next time I’m in New York I’ll have to make a pilgrimage to the home of the original Newburg.  Maybe I’ll try the Baked Alaska while I’m at it.

Bon appétit.

Della

[Ed: 365Foods is pleased to welcome Sarah for her first solo guest blog. Having grown up in a household where meat and potatoes were King, Sarah is gradually learning to cook and is a foodie-in-training – in fact, she just purcahsed a stand mixer and is thrilled to be making her own bread!]

Ah, National Fast Food Day.  I love National Fast Food Day.  I love fast food.  I especially love McDonald’s.  Despite all the studies, documentaries, statistics and nutritional information out there, I still love McDonald’s.  For National Fast Food day I hopped over to the closest McD’s to me in Vancouver’s downtown core, the Waterfront Food Court.  There I waited in line in gleeful anticipation [Ed.: which looks like this] of my longstanding order: two cheeseburgers and a small fries.  Standing there, smelling that specific McDonald’s smell, I thought back to when a trip into town for my family meant lunch at McDonald’s (my mother would be horrified if she read this, I’ll clarify to say we only went into town every few months).  I played every sport imaginable in high school partly because we’d have to bus into town for all of our games and that meant a trip to McDonald’s on the way home for dinner.  The only burger I’ve ever ordered there is a cheeseburger and I have no plans to branch out.  That would mean giving up an opportunity to get a cheeseburger and why would I do that?

Back to the meal at hand.  I received my two cheeseburgers and small fries with the requisite one packet of ketchup and one packet of pepper.  Unwrap cheeseburger #1 and devour in four bites.  Unwrap and repeat with cheeseburger #2.

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Next, use one of the cheeseburger wrappers for the fries.  Empty wee bag of fries (have they gotten smaller?) and open the ketchup.  Tear open the pepper and sprinkle on ketchup.  Trust me, it’s good.  Pause for picture.

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The entire meal lasted approximately 4 minutes and 30 seconds.  Not very healthy, no ambience and, in hindsight, very little meat but still … sometimes a McDonald’s happy meal [Ed.: Did you get a toy??] is really all you want or need.

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Happy National Fast Food Day!

Sarah